I can’t wait for the striking schoolchildren to grab the reins of power

(The Guardian, 19 Feb 2019) The UK’s kids protesting climate change were passionate, articulate and unafraid – those with old ideas need to get out of the way.

This is a country for old men. So is the United States. Donald Trump is 72, and people are talking about Joe Biden running against him, aged 76; another possible presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, is 77. In the UK, Jeremy Corbyn is 69; John McDonnell is 67; Vince Cable is 75. Jacob Rees-Mogg is 89. Only one of these ages is a lie. I guess you can work it out. Whatever happened to retiring? Why are these men considered to be at their political peak? I speak as a nan myself. Will I be running for office in 15 years’ time?

The blokes who govern the “free” world were brought into sharp relief by last week’s strike against climate change. My God, it was something. Suddenly in my house and on TV screens there were angry, informed teenage girls – and yes, it was mostly girls – talking about how we have just 12 years to do something. They were passionate, articulate and unafraid. Their energy was contagious. The fact they were having a fabulous time at a protest was inspiring and all the daft criticism about bunking off came from the zombie class such as Andrea Leadsom and various dullard rentagobs who don’t even seem to understand what school is: an hour a day of learning followed by hours of crowd control. But then I guess bunking off is as outre as running through fields of wheat for these alien suck-ups.

I am not pretending to be down with the kids – that is an entirely pointless exercise – but I do wonder about the way generational differences are playing out at the moment. The denunciation of the protests by the right wing is also a refusal to take climate change seriously. It is an entirely blinkered view. This “I’m all right, Jack” attitude is fine, I suppose, if you don’t have children or grandchildren who you would like to be able to breathe, and not be subject to the breakdown of society that climate change inevitably brings. What links those currently attacking the kids is not age but a certain political word view. Being rightwing makes you disturbingly ancient, somehow. Yes, I know the cliches about young folk being liberal until they are 30, when their heads take over from their hearts; or the US political writer Irving Kristol saying that a conservative “is a liberal mugged by reality”. The idea is that, as we get older, we become more conservative.

External link

The Guardian, 19 Feb 2019: I can’t wait for the striking schoolchildren to grab the reins of power